NEWARK, NJ - Over 1,300 Newark students from 50 schools participated in the city’s first environmental pilot program to develop civically engaged future scientists and leaders.

Elementary, middle, and high school students completed the Newark Watershed Science and Leadership Academy (NWSLA) where learning extended beyond the classroom with outdoor fieldwork to learn about water infrastructure, chemistry, and treatment.

This is the first time such a program has been developed in the city. The Newark Board of Education, the Department of Water and Sewer Utilities and the City of Newark worked together to create the program. 

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“This extraordinary class teaches our youth valuable lessons about the sciences, engineering, and sustainability, all in the context of Newark’s water system. It also provides guidance about career choices, leadership, and public service,” Mayor Ras Baraka said. “We hope that the students who complete the program today will be tomorrow’s leaders in the sciences and will share with their friends, families, and neighbors what they have learned about how our watershed functions.”

Select schools were invited to participate. The science curriculum required monthly visits to the Watershed to complete instructive modules in leadership training, water treatment, chemistry, and ecological experiments. Students participated in the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Academy held every third Saturday of the month for additional leadership development.

Students who successfully completed the full curriculum were presented with a certificate as a Young Scientific Leader of Tomorrow early this week.  Their final experiments of building their own watersheds were also on display.

The program will continue into the upcoming academic school year said Kareem Adeem, Acting Director of Water and Sewer Utilities. NWSLA provides hands-on learning opportunities for students to work alongside people who look like them and come from where they do.

“That is not only important for them to see but impacts them in measures we will never be able to quantify,” said Adeem. “This program means a great deal to the City and has empowered our students to be confident leaders civically and in the scientific community.”